"To European solidarity!" was the toast Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed speaking at an official breakfast dedicated to the 300th anniversary of St Petersburg in Catherine's Palace in Tsarskoye Selo (near St Petersburg).
"Together we will overcome the challenges and threats [facing us] and make our continent secure," the Russian president said.
In his speech he touched upon the issues of strengthening and developing integration in Europe. The head of state noted that it is in St Petersburg that "it becomes particularly noticeable that Russia historically and culturally is a part of the united Europe." Russia's cooperation with European countries has age-long traditions," Vladimir Putin stressed.
In his words, "the nexus of times is most acutely felt here, in Catherine's Palace." In this place interosculation of cultures is evident, because masters from Russia, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and France took part in creating the palace and the park surrounding it. "It was an all-European treasure," the president said, noting that thus the greatest all-European project was implemented.
Besides, he reminded those present that there, in the Tsarskoye Selo lyceum, progressive and talented people studied, in particular, Alexander Pushkin. These persons had done much for peacemaking in Europe, Putin emphasized.
He also pointed out that all those invited to the breakfast had been to the Amber Room of Catherine's Palace. In the president's words, "this masterpiece became a symbol of new relations in Europe." Vladimir Putin thanked "German colleagues" who participated in the restoration of the Amber Room.